When the season began, Josh Newman set the goal of reaching the NCAA tournament for his UAFS Lions.
Sunday night that goal was accomplished.
UAFS (21-6) was selected as an at-large bid in the South Central Region, the first ever bid in school history.
The Lions, the No. 6 seed, will face Midwestern State Saturday in the opening round in Denver, Colo. Metro State is the region’s top seed and will host the tournament.
“Pure excitement,” UAFS coach Josh Newman said. “When we started this program from junior college to division II, our goal was to be in the NCAA tournament and three years after being a provisional program, we’re there.”
No. 3 seed Midwestern State (22-7) are in the tournament for the sixth straight season and received an at-large big after losing in the Lone Star Conference championship game.
“It’s a great feeling,” UAFS senior Bo Franklin said. “First time in school history being a division II program. It’s the first time ever going to the tournament. Just a great feeling.”
UAFS was one of three Heartland Conference schools selected in the region. St. Mary’s is the No. 5 seed and will face Colorado School of Mines while Texas A&M International, the Heartland Conference tournament champions, was selected as the No. 7 seed and faces No. 2 seed Tarleton State.
Metro State, who is the national runner-up, will face the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs in the opening round.
Defending national champion Drury University is the top seed in the Midwest Region and will face Wisconsin-Parkside. Cameron Adams (Southside), Ian Carter (Northside) and DaShaun Stark (Springdale) are member of the Panthers roster.
Harding University received an automatic bid into the field of 64 by winning the Great American Conference championship and are the no. 8 send in the Central Regional. The Bison face No. 1 seeded Minnesota State-Mankato.
Arkansas Tech received an at-large bid from the GAC and are the No. 7 seed in the Central Regional. Alex Scharlau (Springdale) and the Wonder Boys face No. 2 seed Central Missouri on Saturday.